Friday, April 27, 2018

Being Schooled

I awoke to my inbox and found this poem that I have daily sent to me via Poem-a-day that curates poetry to send to subscribers every day.  It is a donation based service and includes both modern poets and those whose long history marks many a shelf on libraries.  Poetry has always been the original flash fiction or non using a different format to express the author's desires, observations or a message. And this what Ms. Sanchez intended when she wrote this piece: 
“This poem comes from anger and how one can use it to cultivate resistance. As I continued to revise, I realized that I was also writing about the #MeToo movement, what it means to be a woman in this culture. How do we cope with the violence we inherit?”
All of Us

Erika L. Sánchez

Every day I am born like this—
No chingues. Nothing happens
for the first time. Not the neon
sign that says vacant, not the men
nor the jackals who resemble them.
I take my bones inscribed by those
who came before, and learn
to court myself under a violence
of stars. I prefer to become demon,
what their eyes cannot. Half of me
is beautiful, half of me is a promise
filled with the quietest places.
Every day I pray like a dog
in the mirror and relish the crux
of my hurt. We know Lilith ate
the bones of her enemies. We know
a bitch learns to love her own ghost.
Then I went to the New York Times and found this piece whom I read regularly in the Guardian.  And again another message that has relevance and very vested in our current climate.

When Misogynists Become Terrorists

By Jessica Valenti
New York Times
April 26, 2018

Alek Minassian, who plowed a rental van through a busy Toronto sidewalk on Monday, left little doubt as to why he killed 10 people, most of them women. Minutes before his attack, he posted a message on Facebook lauding the mass murderer Elliot O. Rodger and warned of an “incel rebellion” — a reference to an online community of “involuntarily celibate” men who believe women unjustly deny them sex.

Mr. Rodger, who killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., in 2014, recorded YouTube videos raging against “spoiled, stuck-up” women he called “sluts” who sexually rejected him. And before Mr. Rodger, there was George Sodini, who killed three women in a Pennsylvania gym in 2009. He left behind an online diary complaining that women ignored him and that he hadn’t had sex in years.

Despite a great deal of evidence that connects the dots between these mass killers and radical misogynist groups, we still largely refer to the attackers as “lone wolves” — a mistake that ignores the preventable way these men’s fear and anger are deliberately cultivated and fed online.

Here’s the term we should all use instead: misogynist terrorism. Until we grapple with the disdain for women that drives these mass murderers, and the way that the killers are increasingly radicalized on the internet, there will be no stopping future tragedies.


Over the past decade, anti-women communities on the internet — ranging from “men’s rights” forums and incels to “pickup artists” — have grown exponentially. While these movements differ in small ways, what they have in common is an organized hatred of women; the animus is so pronounced that the hate-watch group Southern Poverty Law Center tracks their actions.

The other dangerous idea that connects these men is their shared belief that women — good-looking women, in particular — owe them sexual attention. The incel community that Mr. Minassian paid homage to, for example, was banned from Reddit last year because, among other issues, some adherents advocated rape as a means to end their celibacy.

Pickup artists, on the other hand, believe they can manipulate women into sex. In the wake of the Toronto attack, a well-known member of the “pickup artist” community, Daryush Valizadeh, tweeted that “sleeping with only two or three Toronto Tinder sluts would have been enough to stop” Mr. Minassian’s “urge to kill.” Mr. Valizadeh has argued for the legalization of rape.

In some of these groups, men who kill women have become heroes. After Mr. Rodger went on his shooting spree, one men’s-rights community called what he did “Going Sodini” — a reference to the 2009 shooting in a gym outside of Pittsburgh. Before his rampage, Mr. Sodini, 48 at the time, was seeking advice from pickup artists out of a frustration that women decades younger than he was wouldn’t date him.

Later, after Mr. Rodger’s 140-page manifesto was released — outlining his fury over still being a “kissless virgin” — his name became synonymous on misogynist forums with revenge on women who reject men. Chris Harper-Mercer, who shot and killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in 2015, mentioned Mr. Rodger by name in a manifesto he wrote in which he complained about being 26 years old with “no girlfriend, a virgin.”

And now, in the aftermath of the attack in Toronto, men on incel communities are hailing the killer as a “new saint,” with commenters changing their avatars to Mr. Minassian’s picture in tribute.

Feminists have been warning against these online hate groups and their propensity for real-life violence for over a decade. I know because I’m one of the people who has been issuing increasingly dire warnings. After I started a feminist blog in 2004, I became a target of men’s-rights groups who were angry with women about everything from custody battles to the false notion that most women lie about rape. In 2011, I had to flee my house with my young daughter on the advice of law enforcement, because one of these groups put me on a “registry” of women to target.

I was far from the only one. In 2014, a gaming award ceremony set to honor the feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian received a bomb threat; an anonymous harasser threatened to detonate a device unless her award was rescinded. Before Milo Yiannopoulos was a well-known alt-right figure, feminists knew him as one of the primary architects of Gamergate, a movement of young men who harassed and threatened women in the videogaming industry. Two fans of Mr. Yiannopoulos were charged with shooting a protester outside of one of his speeches.

Part of the problem is that American culture still largely sees men’s sexism as something innate rather than deviant. And in a world where sexism is deemed natural, the misogynist tendencies of mass shooters become afterthoughts rather than predictable and stark warnings.

The truth is that in addition to not protecting women, we are failing boys: failing to raise them to believe they can be men without inflicting pain on others, failing to teach them that they are not entitled to women’s sexual attention and failing to allow them an outlet for understandable human fear and foibles that will not label them “weak” or unworthy.

Not every attack is preventable, but the misogyny that drives them is. To stop all of this, we must trust women when they point out that receiving streams of death threats on Twitter is not normal and that online communities strategizing about how to rape women are much more than just idle chatter. There is no reason another massacre should happen

Last night I read that the investigations into NBC regarding Matt Lauer overturned some other rocks relating to the former anchor of the Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw.  The reality is that internal investigations are done to protect and preserve a culture not expose and open it.  Shocking I know, just ask the E Network and Ryan Seacrest but ask NBC why they fired Billy Bush while tapes of Trump and his off camera remarks on the Apprentice have long been buried in a vault.

Meanwhile the Public Station,WNYC,  in New York that had faced a series of complaints about the radio broadcaster, John Hockenberry, found that his situation was an isolated one and in turn the station nor management did not have a systemic culture that protected and in turn punished those who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment.  Again, full transparency, hiring an outsider to do a job and then finding the source of the problem and handling it professionally in a manner that enables a workplace to grow and learn.  Funny they kept on the air and no others lost jobs or were vilified in the public square.  

 That seems to be the way we are handling all of this, throw one under the bus and then the jackals are satisfied.  Starbucks did the right thing closing their stores for "unconscious bias" training.  I am sure that will solve a larger cultural problem that has way longer tentacles in the community.

I don't think we have "unconscious" bias but we have suppressed ones that at times emerge and I can think of the most common places - traffic.  Please every racial epithet and stereotype emerges in the safety of our car with the windows rolled up and the music blasting.  And sometimes just sometimes those "unconscious biases" become very conscious and that becomes road rage.  We should give every driver a gun as a good driver with a gun will stop a bad driver with one.  I loathe driving and in Nashville that is something that even driving in LA cannot be matched.  This is where the rules of the road are long abandoned and it is everyone for themselves when you get behind a wheel.

Other biases  emerge in more "micro aggression's" and passive aggressive manners.  The tone of voice, the terminology we use and the way we whip out cameras and film or take photos of people who do or act in ways that we find upsetting and disturbing.  Last night another photo emerged of the Waffle House shooter where a man felt compelled to film him.  And the point is what exactly?  This is Pawn Shop and I am sure the local pawn shop attract all the quality folk.  I have seen equally weird shit at a Starbucks.  Someone call the Police!! Oh wait maybe not.

And in turn this is posted on social media, outrage occurs and everyone feels better or not depending on who is throwing the stones and sticks.  The sub-communities, the dark web and the varying groups and private Facebook pages that hide a more sinister culture that is laden with hate and rage.  And again like the car there is only so much one can keep in the confines of the vehicle and then you promptly use that vehicle to kill those who bring you psychological harm.  So much for changing the world for good there right Mark Zuckerberg.  But hey at least you can get a heads up before the carnage begins.

When I moved to Nashville I did not think my biases, unconscious or otherwise, would be as tested as they are here.  It is easy to ask yourself periodically who you are and what you wish to be and learn again from growth and what happened in the past that affects that in the present and in turn can enable you to change in the future.  I realized that takes immense effort and working with our without a therapist that frankly I get why anyone just tucks that in their back pocket rather than deal with it. And like your car within the safety of your four walls you can be, do or say whatever you want. And thanks today I have concluded I trust no one in Nashville and I keep it simple stupid. Literally simple and stupid to reflect the larger vibe.

When it comes to men I look at the bigger picture and realize that I was one who loathed the term "rape culture" as it meant that Universities/Colleges were complicit in the systemic abuse of women and enabled rape to be a part of the "school experience." And then each day I thought of the statement boys become men and then we see the rise of the #MeToo movement and I heard two asshole white boys in a prestigious magnet school respond to my comment that Colleges are reverse ATMs and that you need to spend a great deal of time thinking of way to circumvent the costs and find the best deal and program in which to come out of this with the least debt and the best skills possible.  At lot to do for someone 18 and why I am great believer in using the Community College to burn credit hours and make sure that the college of your choice will accept those credits and if you have to move or change addresses in which to ensure that those are costs well taken.   And these two go, "And miss the college experience? No way."  My first thought which I did not say was, "What, get drunk, rape girls and mock others? Okay then" Instead asked them what they meant and they of course did not respond but laughed.  Point proven.

I asked a Student in that same class about #MeToo and what they are learning about the issue as Prom time was coming up and there needs to be dialogue that will address the subject.  He said they are not and that ended that as sex education is non-existent in Tennessee and is governed by law.  Yes indeed this is 1950 and the good ole days and America is great again.  Oh wait that sarcasm doesn't translate well here and by here I mean Nashville as again you need intelligence, perspective and with. Three things lacking here.  Again this is not an unconscious bias it is very conscious.

So do I see men as predators? Yes I am done pretending that I cannot.  I simply choose to socialize with those younger and in relationships and take on a more maternal relationship and in turn can still in some way be a Teacher/Mentor as it still enables me to do something I enjoy without the need to watch every word, consider whom I am speaking to and address them by gender/race/religion or any other extrinsic factor I can discern before opening my mouth or just not open it all.  This is where we are, speak to no one, learn only superficial and surface things based on what they look like or say on social media and judge lest ye be judged.  I have been schooled here in Nashville and the lesson plan sucks.


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